Introverts: Leverage Your Strengths to Become a Great Leader
“We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.” – Susan Cain
Experts estimate that 33%-50% of the population skews introverted, yet studies show that 96% of leaders and managers report being extroverted. In a poll, 65% of senior executives said it was a liability for leaders to be introverted, and only 6% saw introversion as an advantage. Another study found that introverts were less likely to emerge as leaders as they were prone to unpleasant/unenjoyable thoughts and emotions while engaging in typically extrovert behaviors. So, extroverts must be better leaders, right? Nonsense. Introverts can become great leaders. The answer lies in leveraging your strengths!
It is a common myth that extroverts make better leaders. The stereotypical great leader is one that is outspoken, thrives on social interaction and is a charismatic titan that enjoys being the center of attention. Introverts are often labeled as shy, aloof, or arrogant. These labels are largely inaccurate and the result of extroverts’ misunderstanding of their introvert brethren. There are many great leaders that have been introverts: Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates to name a few.
These perpetuated myths have many introverts trying to force themselves to be more extroverted in their behaviors and willing themselves to be extroverts. While it is not possible for introverts to flip a switch and become extrovert, it is possible to harness your unique strengths as an introvert to your advantage and become a great leader.
As an ILEC master-certified executive leadership coach, I work with all types of clients. Some are the heads of Fortune 1000 companies or internationally renowned universities and in the public spotlight weekly. Others are unassuming leaders that mostly fly under the radar and prefer to work behind the scenes. What I’ve learned is that from one extreme to the other, they all have the capacity to be great leaders. I’ve yet to encounter a client – introvert of extrovert – that I could not help develop into a better leader. That is because true leadership is something that activates from within. It’s a learned skill that can and should be improved.
Here are some of the super-power qualities that introverts bring to the table:
By their very nature, introverts are both self-aware and reflective. They’re thoughtful and tend to keep their emotions in check with ease. They’re not ego-driven, nor do they seek the glory associated with individual accolades for their behavior and decisions. And that makes them vulnerable. Not vulnerable in a sense that they embody weakness – but vulnerable in their humbleness, modesty, and empathetic nature. They have the courage to be themselves while recognizing the value of others and their contributions. People pick up on that, they appreciate it, and they’re naturally attracted to the charisma of a self-assured leader. In my work as a coach, I emphasize vulnerability is a necessity. It’s Law #5 among the 50 Laws of Intelligent Leadership and Secret #2 in ILEC’s 7 Secrets of Intelligent Leadership.
Observant & Effective Listener
Introverts tend to engage in quite observation and learn by studying the world and people around them. They can concentrate for long periods of time. They’re perceptive and pick-up on the behaviors and emotions of others. Introverts seldom feel the need to be the first one to speak up in a room. They’re naturally good listeners, preferring to weigh decisions after quiet, observant, and reflective thinking. This trait leads to the development of authoritative knowledge. And knowledge is power, which, in turn, leads to superior decision-making skills. And superior decision-making skill is indicative of exceptional executive leadership.
Lead by Example
Introverted leaders tend to share in a company’s success and accomplishments, avoiding individual credit and praise in favor of recognizing the collaborative effort of the entire team. They’re the type to hire, then step back and allow top talent to perform. They don’t ask others to do what they themselves would avoid. Leadership such as this inspires a workforce. Employees feel valued, heard, and recognized. It inspires confidence, trust, and ultimately – unbreakable loyalty. When a company operates under these principles, even with an introverted leader, they’ve developed and nurtured the right corporate culture.
Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching can make you a better leader, regardless of your personality type. Both extroverts and introverts bring their own unique challenges to the practice of improvement, but being the latter does not disqualify you from becoming a better leader. In fact, you may even have an advantage.
If you’d like to explore the improvement of your executive leadership qualities, I would be delighted to work with you in a one-on-one environment. My proven assessments, techniques, and strategies are designed to unlock your potential. And this can lead to increases in company morale, performance, collaboration, and results. I utilize a proven blueprint and philosophy designed to build strong, vibrant leaders and organizations. If you’d like to master skills and build mindsets that create loyalty, trust, and optimizes performance, contact me today to have a conversation about what’s possible!